Do you ever feel intimidated by your writer’s voice? Especially when agents and editors can’t quite fall in love with it? Is there something wrong with how you speak on paper? If so, what is it? Do you find yourself doubting your ability to voice your story and voila, you go do laundry instead of write?
Welcome to my world!
Seems my voice isn’t so pleasant for some folk. Or is that folks? It started when I was subbing to agents back in 2009. I had several requests for A Place In This Life, but most said “nope” because the voice wasn’t what they’d hoped for or expected.
I coughed. I took a lozenge. I gargled and carried on until one agent, Christine Witthohn, caught the voice and heard it. Looks like Ludens work after all!
Now I’m facing the voice challenge again with the editorial crowd. Times like these, I begin to doubt the strength of what I say in words, and second-guess whether my voice needs a vocal transplant or if I should keep my mouth shut, rest my voice and wait to speak until spoken to.
What is voice, exactly? I had a small volleyball game going with Flux on Twitter about what voice is. The contact (not naming my contact, because it’s too late at night for me to remember) stated that first person does not make a strong voice. I said that a strong voice makes first person stronger. We agreed on that, but he went on to reiterate that just because a writer composes in first person, that it does not make the voice strong. A coughed. Maybe wheezed. He’s right.
So where does that put someone like me, a writer who lives by first person and finds comfort in all things I? Not sure, exactly, except that I’m trying to avoid the doubt and worry that my voice sucks. That the tremor in my characters’ lives don’t matter a darned bit. That all the tears shed by my readers were never real. That this is a dream and that I should go back to sitting on the couch at 10 p.m. watching KTLA news and ignoring the urge to tell stories.
Naw… that would be just that… telling a story. Keep writing, whether your mouth is open or not. Sooner or later, someone will hear something.